Friday, May 29, 2009

Local Fridays - 34 Express Off The Rails

I’m starting a new weekly project to bring you the best and worst of local advertising that I find. Local advertising is a large part of the advertising world and goes largely unrepresented in the realm of advertising blogs for the most part. Recently there have been some local ads that have grabbed national attention, so I decided more local advertising needs to be discussed and recognized. We all know that local advertising can at times be very bad. My goal with this weekly project is to highlight not only the bad work that is done but also the good work.

So for the first ever Local Fridays post, I’m going to talk about this out of home bus ad I saw the other day. The program the ad is advertising is great. The bus goes from Greeley to Loveland, which would be nearly impossible if you didn’t have a car and since Loveland has a lot more to offer than Greeley, I’m sure it’s a very useful bus route. So I understand the desire to promote this route and get the word out. What I don’t understand is why they decided to use a pointless headline and why the placement of this ad is on the back of a bus.

The headline “Transfers are your friend!” is utterly confusing to me. I know transfers are good because they save you money, but what does that tell me about this special route? Everyone who rides a bus knows that, and since your target audience is people that ride buses, you should focus on how this new route will help improve their day instead of feeding old information. The sub-header does a great job of explaining what the route does and makes the ad at least decent. A headline that grabbed a person’s attention and gave them some idea of the route would have a much bigger impact.

My second beef with this ad is the placement of it. Now I’m going to preface this argument by saying that this is the only version of this ad that I’ve seen and I haven’t inspected all of the buses around town, but this is the last place I would want this ad placed. This ad is speaking to people who ride buses, letting them know about a bus route. Why in the world would you place it on the back of a bus? The only people that are looking at the back of a bus are people in cars like me. This ad would be much more effective if it was placed at a bus stop, or inside of the bus. It could even be placed as a flyer inside of the bus. That way people who are actually going to use this route, will be able to see it. The only way a bus patron will see this ad is if they are looking at the back of the bus while it pulls away. Even then the headline is so confusing, they wouldn’t have enough time to figure it out before the bus was gone.

Over all, this ad is a failure in my mind. The headline makes the entire thing confusing and the placement is just wrong. What do you think about this ad? How would you have done it differently?


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old School Thursday – Fritos

For this week’s Old School Thursday I found a dandy of a commercial from Fritos in 1978. This commercial has its strengths and of course one big draw back, but stands up pretty well to the test of time. It has a clear, simple message that conveys both a rational and emotional benefit of the product. It also has the classic jingle that was all the rage during this time.

The core of this commercial would hold up even now because it shows the product solving a problem. The problem is lunch is boring, so they start the commercial with a boy playing in his soup instead of enjoying his lunch. Fritos are introduced and all of a sudden lunch is fun. The “good corn taste” is a godsend for a mother with a son that just doesn’t want to eat his lunch. The rational portion of the mother is happy because her son is eating lunch and getting the energy he needs. The emotional portion of the mother is also happy because her son has perked up and is actually enjoying his lunch.

The main draw back to this commercial is the jingle. The jingle doesn’t add anything to the commercial. It is basically used to take up space where the boy or an off camera mother figure would be speaking. All of the rational benefits of Fritos are delivered by the voice over. You could just as easily remove the jingle, add in a couple lines of copy for the boy and run this spot today. You can’t blame them for using a jingle though, jingles dominated advertising at the time. Today the only jingles that work are ones that are used satirically and in small doses.

Overall this is a quality commercial that I think stands up through time. The rational and emotional benefits are still relevant today. The only changes needed to make it a modern commercial would be to remove the jingle and add a line about Fritos only having three ingredients to capture a sliver of health factor.

What do you think about this commercial? Does it stand up to the test of time?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quiznos Email Stumble

Yesterday I received an email from Quiznos with a couple of coupons, which I quickly ignored and focused on the main portion of the email. The email was set up well with the main tie in above the fold and strategically it does a good job of tying into the current TV spot. The execution of the other hand left me confused and sad.

I don’t particularly care for the strategy behind the TV commercial with the creepy talking stove. I do have to give them credit for continuing it and bringing into this personalized email. Immediately I tie the stove to the TV commercial and there is a shared benefit. Then I saw the speech bubble and laughed. The speech bubble is entirely too large for the amount of type that fills it. The attempt at personalization is awful. Worst of all, this portion of the email doesn’t offer me anything new.

I understand the need for a speech bubble but does it really need to take up so much space, while the type inside takes up so little of the bubble? During the TV commercial the oven speaks, and the only way to convey that in a stationary picture is to have a speech bubble. Makes perfect sense, but please don’t waste so much space. There is a time and place for white space and it can be used very effectively. This is not one of those times. The space would be much better used giving me a reason to get a Torpedo.

Personalizing an email is a good way to avoid the dreaded spam label. I had registered with Quiznos during a previous promotion, so they had my name and email. The logical thing to do is use my name in the speech bubble as the oven is talking to me. But if you are trying to talk to me like we are friends, don’t assume things you don’t know are for sure. The oven says it is waiting for me to try its “greatest creation”. How does Quiznos know if I have tried the Torpedo or not? Maybe I have tried the Torpedo and loved it. They would be better off greeting me and moving on to tell me something about the sub.

Which brings me to the worst part of this email, which is that it does nothing. The email brings nothing new to my attention. There is a coupon which is a good start, but the coupon lies below the fold and if I wasn’t looking at this email as a critic, I would have closed it and moved on with my life. All the speech bubble does is repeat the price, which is already given to me at the top of the email and in the TV commercial. I am a captive audience right now. I’m sitting at my computer reading the email. Instead of going into why this sub is the oven’s “greatest creation”, they just tell me the same information I already know.

What do you think about this email? Does it do anything to make you want to get a Torpedo?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dreyer’s Ice Cream After A 10K

Yesterday was the Bolder Boulder 10K race in Boulder, Colorado. I accompanied my fiancĂ© as her cheering section and had a wonderful time. While wandering around the festivities during the race I stumbled upon a Dreyer’s Ice Cream exhibit. My first thought after seeing it was, why in the world would Dreyer’s Ice Cream spend the time and money to have a big display at a heath oriented event.

As I finished that thought, I noticed the huge crowd around the Dreyer’s exhibit. Energy drinks, health food, gym’s and home work out equipment companies all had exhibits around this one and by far Dreyer’s had the most people waiting in line for the free hand out. Granted, they were giving away some type of fruit bar so it probably had a little bit of health to it. What had just two minutes earlier seemed like a horrible strategic move was a counter intuitive gold mine.

After seeing the throngs of crowds bombarding the exhibit I stepped back and thought about this opportunity. There are 54,000 people taking part in the 10K run, plus who knows how many people that are there to support their friends and family that are running. That is a lot of people walking by and sampling their product.

Is this an earth shattering idea that Dreyer’s deserves excessive praise for? No, not really. It’s a simple idea, that is a little counter intuitive but also reveals a deeper human instinct to reward our selves. After running a 10K, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in an ice cream product. Dreyer’s new other wise and capitalized on it and they deserve kudos for doing so.

What do you think about this exhibit by Dreyer’s? What other examples like this have you seen?


Friday, May 22, 2009

Intel Flops With Its "Playground" Ad

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated I found a very confusing print ad placed by Intel. They got a great placement on the left side of the second page and then decided to vomit all over it. The ad conveys nothing to the consumer. The images of a soccer player and the scientist have no tie in. The copy at the bottom of the ad does nothing to give the reader any insights into what Intel is trying to say; it actually offends the reader.

There is a lot of discussion on what advertising should say and do for a company. The one thing that everyone agrees with is that advertising needs to convey some point to the reader. It has to say something about your company that the person reading will find interesting and remember. This ad just doesn’t do that. The only thing I learn by looking at the layout is that the scientist and the soccer player have different playgrounds. Yes, that is very apparent to everyone. Does this mean that Intel scientists can’t play soccer? Does this mean that soccer players can’t be scientist or even enjoy science as a hobby?

The separate images of the soccer player and Intel scientist have no tie in. There is nothing that connects the two images beyond the forced “playground” lines. They should have used a common element between the two to make the tie in. Have the soccer player calculating the precise angle needed to make the goal. Have the scientist figuring out some statistics to give a soccer team an advantage. Anything would have been better than throwing a soccer player on a field into the ad just to make it “relevant” to Sports Illustrated.

One of the best assets of print advertising in a magazine is the chance to capture a static audience. If you can develop an advertisement that is interesting and attention grabbing you have the consumer for as long as they want to stay on your page. You also have the ability to explain your product and its attributes in more detail. The body copy of this ad, while well written, doesn’t tell the reader anything. It tells the reader they have a lot of employees with PhDs and that those employees all share the language of math. That’s great, but what does it do for the reader? It doesn’t tell the reader how Intel will make their life better. It doesn’t tell the reader that Intel will make their computer run faster or their cell phone get better reception. There is nothing holding the reader to this ad. There is no benefit for the consumer.

Even the call to action is weak and meaningless. “Learn more at”? Learn more? You didn’t tell the reader anything other than you have a lot of smart employees. You better have smart employees. What is the reader going to learn at this website? Is the reader going to learn more about your smart employees? After reading this entire print ad, the reader has no idea what Intel does or why they should be interested in what Intel does. They haven’t created a need or desire to go to this website.

I left this part for last because it melts my brain. A general rule of thumb is that it’s not a good idea to insult your audience. The line “your playground isn’t like our playground” is pretty harmless. Pointing out that the soccer player and the scientist “play” in different venues is fine. Then you combine it with the first line of the body copy and you feel insulted. “Needless to say, our people aren’t afraid to use a calculator”. Does that mean the soccer player is afraid of a calculator? Now some people might think I’m being a little nit picky with this, but if this ad offends even one person it is a horrible use of Intel’s advertising budget.

What do you think about this print ad? Have you ever seen another ad that does so little?


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Old School Thursday - The Original Mother Nature

Back in April I wrote a post about the different ways Mother Nature is used in two resent commercials. As a comment, someone suggested looking back at the Chiffon Margarine Mother Nature commercial. Since, this commercial ran before I was born and I had never seen it, I figured it would be perfect for Old School Thursday.

This commercial is interesting because they use Mother Nature as both the caring life giving figure as well as the vengeful fiend. In the beginning when Mother Nature believes she is eating her all naturally created butter, she’s happy and cheerful expunging the wonderful virtues of her creation. After she is told the butter she is enjoying so much is actually margarine, she becomes a vengeful, lightning throwing version of her previous self. The duality of Mother Nature in this commercial directly contradicts the singular character Mother Natures in the two recent spots.

It’s an interesting approach for Chiffon to take with the way this commercial is set up. While Mother Nature is enjoying the butter she is happy and cheerful. Once she realizes she has been tricked and is actually eating margarine she becomes angry. The natural progression of this commercial would have you believe that butter is good and margarine is bad, or that tricking Mother Nature is bad. I wouldn’t want to eat margarine after seeing this commercial. I would be afraid to offend Mother Nature. She may throw a lightning bolt at me too.

Even with the voiced over line about Chiffon Margarine being creamy and sweet enough to trick Mother Nature I still think it falls short. You get the payoff but are immediately distracted by what Mother Nature is going to do.

In my mind this commercial definitely did not withstand the test of time. What do you think about the commercial and the use of Mother Nature?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stop Selling. Start Communicating.

I just listened to a great interview on with Roy Spence of GSD&M. I highly recommend listening to the entire interview as there are numerous interesting and fascinating points made by Spence. The main point they discuss during the interview is the importance of having a purpose in you company and that that purpose is more than just making money. I think that same idea needs to be an important factor in advertising as well.

A lot of advertising, especially in a down economy like we are in now, trends toward the retail end of the advertising spectrum. I understand that advertising is used to help generate sales and sales leads for a company. But at the same time your company needs to speak to more than just sales in its advertising. Communicating your purpose beyond profits to the public makes the consumer feel like your company is a partner with them, not just a random person reaching into their pocket.

Everyone is aware that the end goal of a for profit organization is to make money. There is no issue with that. When a company puts profits in front of speaking to and building a relationship with their customer base they lose the confidence of the consumer. A company can have the best product in the world, but if all they do is shout at the consumer, they never develop the community feel that consumer’s desire. Instead of building a relationship with the consumer by conveying an emotional and practical benefit of the product, the hard sell method turns the consumer onto the defensive.

During the interview Andrew Warner and Roy Spence discuss Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a great example of a company putting its products and customers ahead of profits. They are actually able to charge more than the normal grocery store because they have a purpose beyond profits. Their purpose of selling high quality, organic foods forms a bond with the consumer. Because of the bond, the consumer doesn’t mind paying a little more than they normally would and because of that, they make a nice profit in the end.

What do you think about this idea of having a purpose beyond profits in both your business and advertising? What other companies do a good job of conveying a purpose outside of profits?


Monday, May 18, 2009

Companies Can Learn A Twitter Lesson From Athletes

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Sean Gregory looks at Athletes and their use of Twitter. There are a lot of reasons why people like to follow their favorite athletes on Twitter. Some of them are funny. Some of them give insights into the game. Some of them give a more uncensored sound bite than they can on TV. But the reason most people follow their favorite athletes on Twitter is simple and more companies should follow their lead; Twitter forms a relationship between the athlete and the person.

Gregory sums it up perfectly by saying, “… messages of 140 characters or less – satisfies fans’ thirst for a closer connection to big-time athletes…” People want the behind the scenes scoop. They want to feel like they have some sort of connection with the guys they cheer for on TV. Companies are no different. People want to feel like they have a connection with the products they love and support.

This can be accomplished in any number of ways. A company can share new product improvements. They can share a solution to a problem that some customers have had. They can share unique ways to use their product. Anything that gets a dialogue flowing and makes the consumer feel like they are part of the machine and not the pavement being run over will foster a feeling of community and loyalty.

The most important key to developing a good Twitter following in my mind is to not “sell” to the people following you. Athletes generally don’t use Twitter as a sales avenue. Some promote their new sports drink sponsorship or may even promote an autograph-signing event. However they aren’t sending out 20% off coupons constantly. So, while a tweet like “I can’t think of a good reason why the Denver airport’s in friggin West Kansas”, from Barry Zitto, might not seem like an earth shattering statement to most people. To his followers, it’s exactly what they are looking for.

What do you think about Athletes using Twitter? Could companies use some of these techniques to build their follower base?


Friday, May 15, 2009

“Own Your C” Shows the Light and Dark Sides of Choices

Recently the “Own Your C” commercials have been running with pretty good frequency. The one I’ve noticed the most has a teenage boy throwing his “choices” into the air, only to have them boomerang back and attack him a year later. I thought this was a very good commercial. The strategy was simple and conveyed in a way that was interesting and memorable. After seeing this and the other complimentary commercials, I noticed a pattern. I noticed all of the commercials had a negative tone to them. All of the commercials spoke about negative choices coming back to haunt you. So the other day when I saw the “Tree” version I stopped and thought about which version was more effective.

The negative commercials have fear on their side. When the “Cs” come flying back at the teen that seems to be minding his own business, you get the feeling of fear and shock that the teen is feeling as he crawls into the phone booth for cover. You can picture yourself in that same situation. How many times, especially as a teenager, did you do something that wasn’t the best idea and got away with it? This commercial brings to light that you don’t always get away with it.

The positive commercial does something that is often overlooked when trying to speak to teenagers; it encourages good behavior instead of putting down bad behavior. The commercial depicts a girl nurturing her “C” as it grows into a tall, strong tree. Not only does the tree grow big and strong, it also catches her as she falls out of it. The strategy is easy to comprehend and expressed greatly by the growing tree.

I don’t think one commercial is more effective than the other. They speak to different people and work well together as a rotation. The best part of the campaign to me is they show both sides. They have commercials that show the “dark” side of bad choices and the “bright” side of good choices. I’m also glad they chose to do this in two different commercials. A lot of brands would have tried to put a positive and negative side in one spot, which would have become confusing. Separating the two makes both messages clear and concise.

What do you think about these spots? Do the positive and negative aspects of the two spots work well together?


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Old School Thursday - Dodge Charger Circa 1971

In honor of Chrysler coming out with their new campaign to save the company, I thought with this week's Old School Thursday I would take a look back at an old Chrysler spot. I found this old Charger spot intriguing and may give some insight into why the big three are in the position they are in right now.

The 1971 Charger was a great vehicle. It had sleek lines, a low, powerful stance and an aggressive grille. The car was the epitome of muscle in a muscle era. That is why the strategy of this spot is so confusing to me.

The customer in the commercial is shown a Dodge Charger. He loves the car but is looking for something more family friendly since his wife is expecting. The salesman then spouts off the usual family car line, economy, fuel mileage and room … and promptly shows the gentlemen another Charger. This strategy shows Dodge trying to make every car fit everyone.

Instead of making a muscle car for the people that want a muscle car, and a family car for the people that want a family car they tried to sandwich everyone into their best selling vehicle. This strategy only leads to a water-downed product that disappoints everyone.

The road to where the big three are today was long and winding. There were a lot of factors that went into their demise. But in my opinion, this kind of thinking was the beginning of the end of them.

What do you think about this spot? Is this one of the reasons the big three are where they are now?


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Terminator Salvation and Jeep Team Up

In this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, Terminator Salvation continued its full on assault of the sports world by teaming up with Jeep to create this double truck ad. The strategy behind the ad is solid, but it misses on an opportunity to speak to a stationary audience.

The strategy behind the ad speaks to the ruggedness of the Jeep Rubicon. The Jeep Rubicon is so capable and comfortable that a robot chooses to take it out to its favorite fishing spot. If a machine that is hell bent on taking over the world and eradicating the human race can trust the Jeep Rubicon to get where it needs to go, anyone can. Imagination aside, the Rubicon is shown in the ad to be the exact vehicle you need to get you anywhere you need to go.

While I agree with the strategy behind the ad, I do not agree with the execution. This is a double truck ad, with entirely too much empty space. The robot fishing in the stream could be easily conveyed in the top two thirds of the ad, leaving the bottom third with space to convey some unique selling points of the vehicle. In my opinion when you have a stationary audience, like you do in a magazine, you should take that time to inform that audience of information you can’t fit into a TV or pre roll spot. This space could also be used to tie into the movie more. Having the unique selling points tie into the movie theme would be an entertaining way to convey interesting points for both the movie and the vehicle.

The ad feels like it was built plainly to appeal to both the movie clients and the vehicle clients. By doing that, both clients were shorted on what they could have been given.

What do you think about this print ad? Does it do anything to make you want to see the movie or drive a Jeep?


Monday, May 11, 2009

Baked Lays, The New Gatorade

Baked Lays newest campaign, targeting women is riding the strategy that baked lays will help you get into or stay in shape. On the surface this strategy works. Women trying to trim a few pounds will be drawn to a product that will help them curb their cravings for unhealthy food. Everyone has cheat days. Everyone has cravings. The key to dieting is not totally cutting out the bad food. It’s limiting it to a manageable level, a level that allows you to attain your goals. Lays is trying to position its self as this product, but doesn’t do a very good job in this commercial.

In this commercial Lays shows a woman working out with her trainer. While the trainer goes to get some water, the woman cheats, hide and seek style. She stops working out and upon the return of the trainer, continues counting way ahead of where she actually is. The woman is utterly exhausted and collapses to the floor. Immediately after the woman collapses from exhaustion they show a bowl of baked lays. The voice over then comes in and says, “staying in shape can be deliciously fun”. At this point I’m very confused. Are Baked Lays some type of rehydration product? Will eating a handful of Baked Lays make me feel re-energized? Re-energized enough to finish my work out?

With the way this commercial is cut together Lays is positioning their product as a Gatorade type, re-energizing snack. The last thing I want immediately after working out is a bowl of chips. Baked Lays have 65% less fat than regular potato chips. That’s great. But how does that help you stay in shape. Will the Baked Lays run a mile for you? Or do 50 sits ups for you? No. Baked Lays can’t help you stay in shape.

Lays would be better suited positioning their product as the alternative to full fat snacks for people that are trying to get into or stay in shape. Show a woman in workout clothes at the store. She reaches for a bag of regular chips and has a flash back to her workout she just finished a half hour ago. Then she decides to grab the Baked Lays because they have 65% less fat. Make Baked Lays the snack you choose so you don’t ruin the work out you just finished. The emotional and rational connection would be far more effective this way. Baked Lays just aren’t believable as the product that will help you stay in shape.

What do you think about this commercial? Does the strategy work for you?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Old School Thursday - Wendy's Fashion Show

On a trip through the You Tube universe this past weekend I stumbled upon this old Wendy’s commercial. This first thing I thought was, wow, that was actually a good spot. I started looking further and found more and more classic commercials, both good and really, really bad. These gems have been collecting dust on the shelves of memories long enough. I am going to start bringing them back to life. Every Thursday I will reveal a different Old School commercial and dissect it like I do with current day spots. If you have any ideas for commercials that have gone the way of the dodo email me at or send me a tweet @TheAccountGuy.

Now on to this week's Old School commercial.

Amid a sea of cardboard cut out burgers Wendy’s went out on a limb and proclaimed they were the unique burger in the fast food dinning experience. They used timely humor and a straightforward strategy as the platform to display all the options Wendy’s has to offer.

The strategy was perfect for the time. At the time fast food restaurants had very choices and there was almost no customized orders. Before Burg King started delivering burgers “Your Way, Right Away”, you were forced to take what was available. Clearly Wendy’s competitive advantage was the ability to get your burger the way you wanted it. This commercial does a great job of conveying the point that at Wendy’s you get exactly what you want and at other places you don’t.

As the dowdy Russian woman walks out again and again in the same outfit you’re hit with a laugh. Add on top of that a good jab at the hated enemy of the USSR and you get a great commercial that conveys a solid strategy and sticks in the mind of the consumer.

Let me know what you think about this spot? Does it hold up to the test of time?


Monday, May 4, 2009

Gillette Focuses In On Their Current Customers

Gillette has adjusted their strategy recently to capitalize on their current customer base. The newest spot for the Fusion blade has a talking blade telling a gentleman that it’s time to get a new blade. When the lubrication strip (also an indicator strip) turns white. It’s time to throw it out and get a new one.

Everyone learns in Marketing 101 that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. So the strategy to focus on keeping your current customers instead of going after the competition makes sense. It even makes sense to try to grow the revenue you receive from your current customer base. They are already buying your product. Why not try to get them to buy more?

It seems like a natural evolution until you think about the current situation of the economy. In this economy people aren’t as brand loyal as they usually are. They don’t feel the need to stick with one brand because that is what they always use. So when you tell your consistent customer of 5 years that he should be buying more of your product you run the risk of coming off as greedy. Granted, there is a payoff to ditching your razor (a better shave) when the indicator strip turns white. But when everywhere you look, people are cutting back and hunkering down to ride out this economic downturn, using your razor an extra week seems like the least you can do.

In my opinion, Gillette would be better served to offer some type of reward program if they want to focus on their current customer base. They could make a program where you sign up on their website, enter the skew numbers from your package of Fusion blades and after your 5th or 10th package you get a $5.00 off coupon. Or even a referral program to earn free packages would help to keep and engage your current customers and bring new customers into the fold at the same time.

Right now, it’s harder than ever for companies to keep their customers. Since it is so important to keep the customers you have already earned, they should be working harder and making it worth the customers while to stick around.

What do you think about this strategy? Is it a solid strategy to keep the customers Gillette already has?